Told from his grandmother’s perspective as a story within a story, Baby Myles is a gift from God. Born amidst fear and COVID and loving support, this baby proved that even a deadly virus can be a blessing in disguise.
Sharon is a Jewish mother of four, grandmother of—now six—children of her three daughters. The family is close, all living in New Jersey, and they see each other often, with her daughter Miriam living on the same property just a couple hundred yards away. In this story, Sharon expressed her awe for God’s plan, in that sometimes when everything appears to be wrong, it turns out to be exactly right.
The outer story
For the past year, Sharon’s father Raymond, who lived in California with his wife Alicia, had been on the decline. He was approaching 88 years old and had many chronic problems. As his doctors kept wanting to do more and more tests, a gradual decision was made to put him on hospice. Ironically he improved somewhat with the reduction of all his medication.
Because of COVID fears and precautions, Sharon had not been to see her father for a year and a half. When the Delta strain came around, Sharon contracted the virus; and after recovering felt liberated to go see him again, since she was pretty certain she would not give him the disease.
At this point he was talking, but very little. She stayed three days, and it made her teary-eyed to see him that way.
After she returned home, her sister came from Israel to visit Raymond. When she arrived, he was not awake. For 20 hours they could not rouse him; and when he awoke, he told them of strange dreams, where he saw people who had passed away, and asked them whether he had looked like he was dead. Much relieved, Sharon’s sister told him what a Chanukah gift he had given her, and he told her, “No, you’re my Chanukah gift.”
That night, Sharon did some soul searching, and asked herself, “what can I do for my dad?” She couldn’t take him somewhere, and he could hardly appreciate material gifts… she thought the best she could do was to be there with him. So, even though she had just been there, she decided to go back.
This time he was hardly speaking at all. The strongest reaction she saw from him was when he was being moved from one area to another: “What!! Who’s moving?” he asked anxiously. Sharon knew his mind was fully alert, but there was very little verbal communication. She stayed with him and he stared at her. For days, he just stared and stared. Finally it was time for her to leave. She said goodbye, and told him she loved him, but got no response.
When she was in the lobby saying goodbye to her step-mom, an aide came to tell her she had forgotten her water bottle in his room. She debated whether she should go back, since she had a plane to catch, but ran back in and said again, “Goodbye, I love you.” This time he responded clearly, “I love you.” The following Friday he passed away during the night.
Sharon treasures that water bottle to this day.
The inner story
In the meantime, Sharon’s daughter Miriam was approaching the end of her second pregnancy. Sharon and her husband Albie hadn’t seen their youngest daughter Yetta and her family for a month, as everyone was being extra cautious not to expose Miriam to anything, especially after the the Omicron variant had now entered the arena. Finally, when nobody had the sniffles, and scheduling worked out, they all got together for the weekend and it was wonderful. Except the next day, Yetta’s husband Shimon said he didn’t feel so well.
In a panic, Yetta threw her two young boys in the car and they left straight away. The following day, Yetta didn’t feel well; Sharon didn’t feel well; and Miriam, the expecting mother, didn’t feel well. They all tested positive for COVID.
Of course, this was Miriam’s worst nightmare—still not quite 36 weeks, and now she had COVID. According to Sharon, she had “quite the anxiety attack” on Monday night, and more family members were sick. On Tuesday, Albie woke Sharon at 3 am to tell her he could see Miriam and her husband getting into the car, and Ester, their eldest daughter who lives with them, was going to her.
Sharon called Ester, who told her that Miriam had started leaking, and her midwife told her to go to the hospital. Miriam was hoping they would be able to give her something so she could come back home; but soon found out this was it—her water had broken and she would be having the baby—a full month early.
Naturally, Shimon felt terrible when he found out. Not only had he given her COVID; now she was going to have a premature birth.
On Wednesday morning Sharon called her good friend Jennifer, who happened to also be a nurse at the hospital. Jennifer was only a month away from retiring, but she promised to be there for Miriam and keep Sharon posted.
Miriam was given time to see if she would go into natural labor, since one has 48 hours after the water breaks before it becomes dangerous. Since Sharon and Yetta were in quarantine, and Ester was watching Miriam’s 18-month-old daughter, Jennifer planned to Facetime the family when Miriam was ready to push.
The blessing in disguise
There was some anxiety when evening came and Jennifer still hadn’t shown up, but she appeared at around 8:00 p.m. and explained she had been tied up with an emergency C-section. Miriam was given pitocin at this point to induce labor, which had not yet begun.
Sharon was beginning to fall asleep when the call came, but the birth went well, attended virtually by Sharon, Yetta and Ester. Miriam held the infant for a bit before the newborn boy was whisked away for examination.
A team of medical professionals determined that the baby was fine. He was crying—a healthy sign of well-developed lungs—and would not need to go into the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Shortly afterward, however, Jennifer approached Miriam with a powerful message, “Oh boy, was God looking after you guys!” She proceeded to explain that not only had the umbilical cord been wrapped around his neck, a not-uncommon danger in natural births, but it was also tied in a knot.
The consequences of a baby going full term with a knot in the umbilical cord can be very serious and tragic. Miriam’s response was directed at Yetta, “Tell Shimon thank you!”
The baby was named Myles Raymond (after Sharon’s father who had passed less than three weeks prior to his birth). The name Myles in Hebrew means ”gift from God.”